Teachers find more children start school without toilet training

Melanie Defries
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An increasing number of children are starting school without being potty trained, according to teaching unions.

In response to enquiries from its members, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has issued new guidance on what teaching and support staff should do if children wet or soil themselves in class.
The guidance says that in no circumstances should staff be expected to toilet-train children, unless this expectation is stated in a staff member's job description. Where children have not been potty trained, staff are advised to report the matter to their line manager so that the school can take appropriate action.
Schools are advised to have clear policies on personal care and support for children while they are at school, which are understood by parents, children and staff.
The Voice teaching union confirmed that it has also heard anecdotal evidence from both early years practitioners and teachers that suggests that children are being potty trained at an older age.
Rosemary Stokes, a former teacher and chairman of Voice, said, 'Teachers are telling us more often that children are starting school who are not toilet trained and that it is falling to teaching assistants to change the children. There are many theories about why this is – for example, that nappies are much more comfortable than they used to be or that there is a lack of consistency because nurseries and parents are using different terminology with children. For this reason, it's very important that parents work closely with nurseries or schools.'
Ms Stokes added, 'One of the big issues is that changing children is not part of a teacher's role, so who is supposed to do this?'
Some local authorities, including Leicestershire county council, are putting together their own guidance for schools and early years settings on the correct procedures for helping children who have not been toilet trained.
View the ATL guidance at: www.atl.org.uk/help-and-advice/school-and-college/personal-care.asp.

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